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Coronavirus: Are Hospitals Following guidelines?

by Sidharth Pandey 11 months ago Views 2080

Coronavirus: Are Hospitals Following guidelines?
Barely 12 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Television and asked citizens to follow ‘social distancing’ whereby citizens maintain a safe distance from each other to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, hundreds of patients and attendants continue to crowd government hospitals particularly the Out-Patient Department or OPD.

At the Delhi government’s busy Lok Kalyan Hospital patients and attendants could be seen almost packed together, some not even 2 inches apart. 

(Picture from Delhi Govt's Lok Kalyan Hospital)


GoNews spoke to some of the doctors at the bustling hospital who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Doctors say the risk of spread of the coronavirus at the hospital and various wards is very high. Patients who are coming in with symptoms of COVID-19 are not being properly isolated fast enough as they stand in line with others and mingle with other patients.

"We have all kinds of patients ranging from those with heart problems to asthma. As their immunity and physical strength are compromised, one can only imagine the consequences if they contract the coronavirus," a young doctor told me.

Ironically, even on Friday, the Union Health Ministry asked all states and central government hospitals to advise patients not to come for the OPD if it can be avoided for the time being. The letter also asks the head of the hospitals to ensure that OPDs are organised in such a manner that there is enough spacing between patients.

Some hospitals are not taking chances. After the first case of COVID-19 was detected, all of Chandigarh’s hospitals have suspended their OPD including the PGI hospital.

Back in Delhi, GoNews spoke to Dr Kishore Singh, Director of Lok Nayak hospital, asking whether the hospital is also considering such measures. "There are lots of patients who visit the hospital’s OPD every day, if we shut down the OPD where will the poor patients go?" he told me.

Asked whether he was worried that such close proximity raises the risk of infection for not only the patients but even doctors and medical staff at the hospital, Dr Singh said, "There is no instance of community transmission so far and thus no basis at the moment." He, however, added that he believed that an advisory to shut down the OPD may be coming.

So far India has reported relatively fewer cases of patients with COVID-19 compared to the size of its population. While the clampdown on inbound passengers may have helped slow down the spread of infection, some experts have argued that this could be because of fewer tests being carried out, which were recently ramped up.

With PM Modi in his address to the nation underscoring the threat from COVID-19 as the among the gravest to face the world, he had asked Indians not to be of the mindset that it will not impact India much when it has hit many developed nations hard.

If numbers do rise then it will be even more critical for medical staff who are the most exposed to infection and are ready to take care of patients suffering from Coronavirus and contain the further spread of the disease in hospitals. In such a case, shutting down or curtailing the OPD may be the only way out for bigger hospitals already dealing with the virus.

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